It’s no secret that the San Jose Sharks have moved some of the cities favorite players this offseason.
The trading of forward Dany Heatley was a necessary move for both the teams success and their salary cap. The trading of Devin Setoguchi was unfortunately, what you have to give up in today’s NHL to coral a player like Brent Burns.
So once all the movement halted, the armchair analysts came out and started discussing how they think Sharks coach Todd McLellan will shuffle the lines with his current, and newly arriving players. Lately, people have been bringing up Sharks centre Torrey Mitchell and how they’d like to see him skate on the first line.
Are you kidding me……
If you know me personally, you know I have an almost perpetual love for any player that comes from Quebec, and that’s no different for Mitchy, but he will never skate on the first line. Not even for the Atlanta Thrashers. But why?
The 126th overall pick in the 2004 draft first skated on to San Jose ice in 2007 when he was invited to training camp. Wasting no time, Mitchell immediately started wowing the coaching staff with his unbelievable speed and patience with the puck.
In no time we saw Mitchell’s skills being utilized on the third line with Mike Grier and Patrick Rissmiller, becoming a penalty killing specialist in the process. Mitchell’s speed and ability to move the puck down the ice was unprecedented, further shown when he became an overnight sensation with one of the most disgusting dangles on Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. There was no doubt that hockey and Sharks fans alike were anxious to see more of the developing young star.
Then came training camp in 2008, when Mitchell was victim of a freak accident, crashing into the net and breaking his leg in what could have been possibly the worst time in his career.
After skating for the full 82 games in his rookie campaign, Mitchell managed just 2 AHL games in the 2008-09 season, 61 combined AHL and NHL games in the 2009-10 season and just 66 games in the 2010-11 NHL season.
So getting back on track here as to why Mitchell won’t skate on the first line.
Mitchell’s sophomore campaign was marred by injury. There is nothing more important in a players development than his second season. Even more than his rookie season. Evidence can be shown is recent Sharks star Logan Couture. Though Couture ‘technically’ was still a rookie in the 2010-11 season, I can guarantee you that without the experience of the previous season, his Calder nomination would never have existed.
A player takes what he does in his first season, and builds on it. It shapes his game, and molds the type of player he eventually will become.
But Mitchell has more than a non-existent sophomore campaign working against him. It seems at least from a observation point, that Mitchell has never completely rehabbed from the injury to his leg. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a point like former Shark Jonathan Cheechoo where he’s been re-learning how to skate, it just seems like some of the fire is gone.
There is also the simple fact that Mitchell has never scored enough goals to be a first line skater (2007-08 10G, 2009-10 2G, 2010-11 19G), and you don’t need another assist artist on a line with Joe Thornton. With that being said, while Mitchell may not score a lot, when he does, you better be ready to puke because this boy pumps out the webgems like it’s nobodies business.
Who knows, Mitchell might be bumped up to the second line, but I doubt it. His chances of skating on the first line are about the same as me skating on an NHL third line though. So let’s put that dog to sleep folks.